Members of Congress Release Letter Calling for Return of Paul Rusesabagina on Humanitarian Grounds
Washington, D.C. - Today Members of Congress made public a bipartisan bicameral letter calling on the government of Rwanda to release Paul Rusesabagina on humanitarian grounds and facilitate his return to the United States. Mr. Rusesabagina has been credited with saving the lives of more than 1,200 people during the 1994 Rwandan genocide and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.
Dated December 16, 2020, the letter was signed by Congressmen James P. McGovern (D-MA) and Christopher H. Smith, Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, along with fourteen senators and twenty-one additional members of the House of Representatives. The letter was released as Mr. Rusesabagina was put on trial at the Supreme Court in Kigali alongside twenty other defendants in proceedings that are widely viewed as violating the international right to a fair trial.
The letter expresses grave concern with the manner in which the the Rwandan government extrajudicially transferred Mr. Rusesabagina from the United Arab Emirates to Rwanda in August 2020, placed him in solitary confinement and charged him with multiple crimes including terrorism. The letter notes that Mr. Rusesabagina is a cancer survivor who suffers from chronic medical conditions that put him at increased risk during the coronavirus pandemic.
The text of the letter is reprinted below and the signed letter is available here.
Dear President Kagame,
We are writing to urge you to return Paul Rusesabagina, a U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident and Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree, safely to the United States to be reunited with his family. As Members of the U.S. Congress who have a strong interest in U.S. – Rwandan relations, we believe that releasing Mr. Rusesabagina on humanitarian grounds is both justified and appropriate, since he is a cancer survivor in the midst of the COVID pandemic who suffers from several chronic medical conditions.
Moreover, we write to express our grave concern with the manner in which your government extrajudicially transferred Mr. Rusesabagina from the United Arab Emirates to Rwanda and then immediately placed him in solitary confinement and charged him with multiple crimes, including terrorism. As your government is aware, U.S. deportation law provides a clear, legal procedure to deport persons for various crimes, including engaging in acts of terrorism. The U.S. deportation process complies with due process while enabling the United States to deport those who should face criminal prosecution in another country. In fact, it is our understanding that over the past two decades, the United States has deported four people to Rwanda and will deport four more to Rwanda after they complete their U.S. criminal sentences. Given this record of Rwandans being deported from the United States when the legal standards are met, your government’s resort to the extrajudicial transfer of Mr. Rusesabagina demonstrates a disregard for U.S. law and suggests a lack of confidence in the credibility of the evidence against him.
We wish to underscore the breadth of bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress for your government to return Mr. Rusesabagina. Our government is monitoring his condition closely. Because it is in the strong interest of U.S. – Rwandan relations and Rwanda’s international reputation, and there are compelling humanitarian grounds for your government to return Mr. Rusesabagina to his family in the United States, we urge you to do so expeditiously.
Members of Congress